Fantasia Speaks: How ‘The Shade Issue’ Affected Her Press Coverage

Movies & TV

RI Reeves / August 26, 2010

Prior to her suicide attempt Fantasia Barrino naturally faced a barrage of negative press surrounding her affair with Antwaun Cook and the lawsuit his wife Paula filed against the former American Idol.

But does she think her African and more ethnic features had anything to do with the sometimes mean-spirited tone of the coverage she received about her personal life? Say, versus the media’s nearly mute opinions on the controversial love lives and choices of other female entertainers like Alicia Keys or white singers like LeAnn Rimes or Britney Spears?

“Yes, I do. I really feel like it does,” she says. But the Fantasia For Real star says the negative tone of the press wasn’t a surprise. She’s says she’s gotten subtle backlash because of her looks since her Idol days.

“I’ve battled and have had to deal with that before. Lord forgive me and I don’t want to offend anybody,” she says, “but when [I did Idol] it seemed like everybody there was Barbied out. Slim, long hair, light eyes, light-skinned. And here I come with my dark skin, full nose, short hair and full lips — it was hard.”

Fantasia says she even believes she’s passed over in the red carpet coverage spreads of many popular magazines for the same reason. “They never put me in those magazines [featuring] the red carpet. Everybody there has long hair and everybody is bright-skinned, and I was like,  ‘But wait a minute. They never gave me that.’ That bothered me,’” says the singer whose new album, Back To Me debuted as the number two pop album and number one R&B album in the country. “And then I tried hard to find people to dress me and they still would not put me there [in those magazines].”

But she says she’s since made peace with her beauty’s place in the industry. “One day I was like, ‘that’s okay’, but I had to get to that point,” says Fantasia. “ I am a dark-skinned, full-lipped sister and it’s all right.” —Ronke Idowu Reeves